Speaking Grace In Any Language
I read a magazine article once that heralded the arrival of a prototype electronic translation device you wear in your ear, almost like a hearing aid. This device provides real-time translation of whatever language it is "hearing."
This device has the potential to allow people from different countries and origins to speak their own languages to one another without confusion.
I love the symbolism of the earpiece translator. When it is used, it has the potential to connect, unify and heal--depending on the grace and peace of the words spoken and heard.
There's this passage of Scripture in the book of Genesis chapter 11 that tells the story of the Tower of Babel.
"Come, let us build ourselves a city," the people in the story exclaim, "with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves..."
They had discovered the "technology" of how to bake bricks to build huge walls and towers, you see, and it made them prideful.
In the story, God "comes down" to see what is happening and realizes that if people continue to think too highly of themselves, they'll be insufferable. God says, "Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."
Thousands of years later, the New Testament book of Acts teaches us that on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus' disciples they began speaking in different languages and scores of people from all over the world heard the Gospel in their native tongues.
It was a vision, I believe, of the unifying and uniting power of Christ--the first step in the reversal of the curse of confusion and disunity that has marked humankind for so long.
We could use some unity and understanding in our world right about now. It feels like there is more strife and disconnection between nations and peoples than there has been in a very long time.
But maybe that's ultimately what will change the tide. After all, Jesus embodied what this looked like when he took all of the violence, anger and hatred that the world had to offer upon himself in an incredible act of suffering and sacrifice.
The Cross is a symbol of sacrifice, not retributive violence--a symbol that will bring humanity together, heal our mistrust of one another and help us to finally live into the hope of the miracle begun at Pentecost.
If any good is to come of the the tragedies that continue to rock our world, it will come because we finally understand the truth of Christ's mission--to turn evil on its head and to reconcile all the world to God.
And that is news that needs to be shared in every language, to every one, by any means necessary. May the grace and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.